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We are 25 days from crowning a National Men’s Club 7s champion, but many clubs are already out of the running.

The playoff systems around the country are all very different, giving many headaches in trying to figure out who is a true contender, and who is pretending. We at RUGBYMag.com will try to sort it out.

First off, here are the Men’s Nationals pools:


Group A

Southern California #1

West #1

Northeast #2

South #2

 

Group B

Mid-Atlantic #1

Northeast #1

Pacific Coast #2

Southern California #3


Group C

Pacific Coast #1

Midwest #2

South #1

Mid-Atlantic #2


Group D

Midwest #1

Hawai'i #1

West #2

Southern California #2



Who is in for sure:
One team, the Tama Laie Lions, already have a spot as Hawaii #1.

Who is in excellent position:
In the Midwest, the qualification is a straight points standings system – no final territorial tournament. So the standings mean a great deal. The Chicago Lions lead the league with the maximum 32 points after two tournaments. Youngbloodz are second with 28. (12 points for 1st, 8 for second, 6 for third, with additional points for attendance)

The only team with a shot to catch either of them is 1823. The Columbus club sits 3rd with 20 points, but the final two tournaments in the Midwest are close to them. If they catch Youngbloodz on a bad travel weekend, especially this weekend in Cleveland, they are do some damage.

But even if 1823 wins the next two tournaments, they need some help. They need both Chicago and Youngbloodz to fail to make the final, which will be difficult as the Qualifier tournaments will likely have fewer and fewer teams as the summer progresses.

The Lions, if they win in Cleveland, will basically have 1st place wrapped up.

Denver. The Denver Barbarians are leading the West, albeit by a single point (the West, like the Midwest, counts points only – no territorial finals). But the points system in the West is different. Six points for a tournament win, 4 for second, 2 for third, and 1 for fourth.

The final tournament is July 21 in Denver. The Barbarians are expected to do well in their own tournament, and will guarantee a place at the Nationals table if they win or finish 2nd.

Three teams are a point behind Denver – Glendale, Kansas City Blues, and Woodlands Exiles. Glendale will be playing virtually at home and have a good shot at winning as a result. It’s simple – win or finish second in Denver and you’re through to the national finals.

So all four are in it, and no other teams have a shot. The only real monkey-wrench in the works is if an also-ran team finishes, say, second, meaning a team that finished 3rd could make it to nationals.


Teams That Look Good Now But we Don’t Know
NYAC
and Old Blue. These two teams are tied at the top of the Northeast. No one else is close. However, with the NRU holding a territorial final, it will all come down to one weekend anyway. The other teams don’t seem to be in as strong form, however, Middlesex, which lost to Old Blue in overtime, is a dark horse. An equine that’s even a shade darker is Mystic River. They have zero points because they haven’t entered a Qualifier yet. If they get the points in New Haven this weekend, they will be a contender.

Old Puget Sound Beach, SFGG, Olympic Club. All of these teams have been doing fine, but have had no Qualifiers in which to really prove themselves. SFGG has beaten Olympic Club twice. OPSB has been winning also. We’ll see in San Francisco July 21.

Daytona, Atlanta Old White. History says these guys will be good, but they haven’t played their championship yet. Charlotte could be a dark horse.

OMBAC, San Diego Old Aztecs, Belmont Shore. These three teams finished in that order in the first of three points-earning tournaments in Southern California. There are still two more to come, and it’s still too early to tell. However, it’s worth noting that Southern California has three seeds to the national tournament, and so all three could get there. Oxy has an outside chance,  but needs to break into the top three this coming weekend at the Sunsplash 7s to improve their position.

Who knows? In the Mid-Atlantic, the talent level is extremely high, and this is quite possibly the best, top to bottom, 7s competition in the country. Schuylkill River needs to play in Rocky Gorge this weekend. Once they do, they are the front-runners. Maryland Exiles are very strong, too.

So that’s it. One team is in. Three teams, we think, are very close to locking things up (Chicago Lions, Youngbloodz, and Denver). OMBAC is a little behind them, but leads one-third of the through their season.

Some teams are still close: Glendale, Kansas City, Woodlands Exiles, 1823, Old Aztecs, Belmont Shore. Of these teams, three will likely make the trip to San Francisco.

And then there are the favorites going into territorial tournaments – NYAC, Old Blue, maybe Middlesex or Mystic, Maryland, Schuylkill River, Atlanta Old White, Daytona, Charlotte, OPSB, SFGG, Olympic Club.

Still plenty of questions to answer …